Overcome economic disadvantages to close achievement gaps and change outcomes.
Westport Elementary is identified as a “Focus” school, which means it’s ranked among the lowest performing 6–15 percent of Title I schools in the state, as determined by the Missouri state assessments in English Language Arts (ELA) and mathematics. Furthermore, Westport Elementary is considered a high poverty school due to having close to 90 percent of
students receiving free or reduced-price lunch (FRPL).
In 2015, the Springfield District made DreamBox part of their personalized learning initiative, and teachers at Westport Elementary embraced the technology.
Within a relatively short time, educators were able to use DreamBox data to identify stunning skill gaps that spanned as many as four grade levels. “Teachers knew they needed to fill those gaps, but they were disheartened to see how many fifth graders, for instance, were performing at a first-grade level,” says Colleen Dorsey, numeracy coach.
Together, they devised a manageable plan for each teacher to work with a small group of students who were at least one grade level behind. Teachers worked one on one with students to set achievable learning goals, and help kids stay engaged and on track. “We used DreamBox data to monitor and measure where each student was going,” says Dorsey.
Meaningful, timely feedback factored heavily in their student progress. Dorsey held team meetings twice a month in which teachers had frank conversations about where they were in relation to their goals, openly sharing both successes and failures. Dorsey believes that it was, in part, this willingness to be vulnerable that helped Westport teachers make such tremendous strides so quickly. “We were all willing to step back and just be learners together.”
Dorsey also credits DreamBox’s Intelligent Adaptive Learning® engine with enabling her team to deliver truly personalized instruction. “With DreamBox, we can go in and make an assignment for our students that meets them right where they are,” she says. “Students can’t wait to see the icon with their assignment because they know that’s the lesson that the teacher selected specifically for them. And we know they’re getting exactly what they need, when they need it.”
Grades K–5 Standardized Assessment Improvement Using DreamBox
Today, students at Westport Elementary are no longer just participants in their education: they’re actually in the driver’s seat. Teachers facilitate the learning, but it’s the students who set the goals and determine the pace. Educators no longer
struggle to engage students who aren’t ready to participate. Instead, they’re now exploring new ways to manage learners that want more—and Dorsey thinks that’s a great problem to have.
Westport Elementary just posted its largest growth in several years for K–5 students.
Last year, Westport achieved a 98 percent growth in student standards on DreamBox. In September 2016, 56 percent of students were working on first grade
standards, and by October, 10 percent of that group had moved up to second grade standards. “Immediately we started seeing change,” says Dorsey.
By the end of the year in May, only 5 percent of the population were still working on kindergarten standards. The school’s proficiency on an external District Standardized Assessment increased by 36 percent, the largest amount in several years. As Dorsey says, “We know that DreamBox is helping us bridge the gap to make significant growth for students.” Dorsey indicates, not only does it bridge the gap, but also assists with grade level expectations and growth.